Long Service

The B.B. is 21 years old this month.  A caving publication to have reached this age is surely a great event and there are few Mendip Journals that date from the immediate post war years.

The B.E.C. formed in 1935 (according to the OFFICIAL records!) had 80 or so members in 1947 the year in which Harry Stanbury – a founder member – launched the B.B.

Quite a span of time and it’s really brought home when one thinks that Alan Thomas was taking his School Cert., beer was 1/- a pint, no wet suits, Sett, Pongo Wallis, Alfie, Harry Stanbury and Don Coase were among the leading lights, Stoke Lane II discovered some 7 months later, St. Cuthbert’s dig open 7 years later, Roy Bennett at school and Phil Kingston born in November!

Over the years the B.B. has served members well, particularly those away from Mendip for long periods, by keeping them in regular contact with the Belfry and I’m sure it is the wish of all B.E.C. members that this will continue long into the future. Whatever may be said of the B.B. it is gratifying to hear the oft quoted phrase “Where’s the next B.B.”



If you look through any twelve months of Belfry Bulletins you will find that you have a pretty good Club Journal.  Comparisons are odious but the B.B. is something no other club has.  Don’t imagine that its unfailing production is an easy task.  Ask the average B.E.C. member to write an article and you will find a variety of excuses that you could use them for a basis of an article written by yourself.

 ‘Alfie’ has done this thankless task for eleven year.  This is longer than all the other editors put together. He began before there was electric light or mains water at the Belfry; before the Stone Belfry was built and at the time that St. Cuthbert’s was first being explored.  Alfie has edited 120 issues of the B.B; he has printed over 20,000 copies and used half a ton of paper.  If all the pages of all the B.B.’s Alfie has printed were laid end to end they would reach from Brean Down to Frome, much to the annoyance of the Mendip Preservation Society! 

Young cavers are like butterflies: they escape from the parental crèche, spend a brief span fancy free and then are finished (in the case of the butterfly – dead; in the case of the caver – married).  How can then a caving club last for more than a few years?  The B.E.C. has stood the test of time because there are always people like Alfie in it to provide continuity between one generation and the next.

Fank’s from hte Publicans Departmunt!

In wieu of the remarks made in the Christmus B.b. vith regards to the use of the B.B. typevriter, the Cawing Publications Dept. voul like it to be knovn hov wery grateful they are for the opportunity of being able to vrite this ‘Thank you’ note in type type vriting instead if vriting type vriting.

Gord. Tilly


B.B. Changes

It was hoped that 1968 would be a year of small changes to the B.B. but due to circumstances beyond my control most, if not all, have come at once.  Firstly I had hoped to have printed the B.B. on the morning of the Committee Meeting so that Phil Townsend could have them addressed and in the post by the second week of the month.  As you can see the B.B. is living up to its usual stunt by being issued in the following month!  Seriously though, I hope to have the issues to programme by March.

The Editorial Staff were under the impression that there was ten months supply of covers left but on inspection found only about 1,000 covers left!  This meant that we had only some 3-4 months supply.  As I had hoped to change the format to quarto in January 1969 some quick thinking had to take place – the final result was that the quarto size would be introduced with the January 1968 issue.  With changes comes a new design of cover.  Without drastic modifications to the current design it could not have been on the larger size of paper without the appearance of being lost. I apologise at not being able to show the original artwork to many members but the designs were prepared and delivered to the printers in just over a week.  Professional advice was taken on the design and the final artwork completed by Robin Richards.  I’ve no doubt that there will be some strong views sent to me but if you feel strongly against this type of design please let me have your ideas for future reference. Thos of you who liked the smaller format and cover design should make a point in coming to the A.G.M. in October and you will be able to look at it after reading Bob’s swindle sheet which will be printed inside.

Some Useful Addresses

Hon. Treas. – R. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Bristol 4.
Hon. Librarian – D. Searle, ‘Dolphin Cottage’, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.
Hut Warden = G. Tilley, ‘Gable’, Digby Road, Sherborne, Dorset.
Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 9 Campden Hill Gdns,. London W.8. Tele. No. PARK 6127 (evenings only)

Address Changes as at 4th December, 1967


M.H. Fricker, 36 Summerhill Rd., St. George, Bristol 5.
A.S. Parker, Ham Green Hospital, Pill, Bristol.
P.A.E. Stewart, 11 Fairhaven Rd., Redland, Bristol 6.


B. Crewe, 20 Riverside Gdns., Midsomer Norton, Bath, Somerset.
K. Gladman, 95 Broad Walk, Kidbrooke, London S.E.3.
T.H. Hodgoon – read T.H. Hodgson
Capt. & Mrs. Littlewood, 10 Hillside Crescent, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth, Hants.

For Full membership list see B.B. No.236, November 1967.


December Committee Meeting

Alan Thomas was elected member of the club.  Despite the fact that we thought one was enough we elected A. Roberts (as opposed to Roy) Thomas as it was decided he couldn’t be so bad as his namesake.  The closing of the Belfry was discussed at some length the final outcome being published with the November B.B.

On the recommendation of the Cuthbert’s leaders the proposed Guest Leader System was accepted by the Committee and steps are being taken to set it in motion as per the instructions of the 1967 A.G.M.  Other clubs are being contacted by the Club Secretary for names of their members who are interested in becoming a Cuthbert’s Leader.  The latest news on the New Belfry is that at the time of writing, negotiations for a grant had not hit any snags but it seems that if we are granted one it is unlikely to manifest itself in less than nine months thus postponing the building of the Belfry until Autumn ’68 or Spring 1969, nevertheless this remains to be seen.

Phil Townsend
Minutes Sec.

NOTICE for St. Cuthbert’s Leaders

Will all leaders note that in future all spent carbide is to be brought out of the cave.  The carbide dumps (Dining Room, Kanchenjunga and Illusion Chamber) will be cleaned and the carbide removed.  It is hoped that all leaders will make his new rule known to their parties before entering the cave.


The BELFRY BULLETIN is available to non-members from Bryan Ells, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset or from the Hut Warden at the Belfry. PRICE 1/6 each.  Post extra.


The Year’s Digging – 1967

Phil Coles and Dave Irwin

Now that the formalities are over the reader can get on to the first if the articles which will prove useful to anyone wanting to help dig next ‘season’.

1967 has proved a reasonably successful digging year for the B.E.C.  Surface digs took place at Emborough, Maesbury and, in conjunction with the Wessex Cave Club, at Nine Barrows and Sandpit.  Only Nine Barrows actually ‘went’ but as the history of this dig has already been the subject of an article in the B.B. of No.232 (July, 1967) by Keith Franklin little need be said.  Of the other three, Emborough and Maesbury have been abandoned for the winter but Sandpit, which was a late starter, still receives spasmodic visits. None of the underground digs – Sanctimonious Passage in Hunters Hole and the various parts of St. Cuthbert’s – bore fruit.  The St. Cuthbert’s sump is still being dug by B.E.C. members of the C.R.G.

It is almost certain that a resistivity device will be used for cave prospecting in 1968.  The device has been highly successful in locating archaeological sites on Lundy Island and should prove a boon to diggers. Another interesting feature for the New Year is the proposed formation of the Mendip Digging Group.  This will be an informal group comprising active diggers form all clubs who meet occasionally in the Hunters to exchange ideas such as ‘chemical persuasion’ techniques, hire of specialist equipment etc. For those tired of digging on Mendip and in need of a change of scene – how about a Welsh dig?  R. (Taff) Bennett will be organising one and anyone interested should get in touch with him.  He is still sometimes seen in the Hunters on a Sunday evening recovering from a hard weekend of Welsh caving.


An official club dig. It is situated in a large depression and takes stream that is active all year round.  The stream sinks near a rock outcrop at one end of the depression.  In view of the size of the team (2) it was decided to dig straight down in front of the rock face instead of pushing it under the overhang as the previous diggers had.  With a team of two it was impossible to install proper shoring and a large corrugated iron rainwater butt was used as a substitute.  This was fine until the shaft became deeper than the butt and the earth began running in underneath.  As fast as the earth was removed more ran in and the dig ‘ground’ to a halt.  To combat the vicious circle that ensued a smaller butt was inserted at the bottom of the first and all well went until the bottom of the second butt was reached. (Shades of Hoffnung? Ed).  Planks were wedged between the two butts in an effort to hold back the earth and progress was contined until the shaft was 17ft. deep.  A passage could be seen going off to one side but a boulder blocked the way.  The team (Phil Coles and Keith Franklin) had been strengthened by the arrival of the Searles and ‘Alfie’.  Their combined efforts failing to remove the boulder so Dave Searle banged it.  As a result the shaft partially collapsed but from then on the diggers began to win back lost territory until by the time the dig was abandoned in October it was some 11ft. deep – a lose of 6ft. on the July depth.  It is hoped to restart Emborough in the Spring.


The B.E.C.’s other cast Mendip dig.  Like Emborough, it is situated in a large weeded depression and takes an active stream. Due to Alan Thomas’ foreign commitments Maesbury was dug on less than half a dozen occasions. An interesting feature of this dig is that in November, 1966 the 7ft. deep shaft was completely filled in by the diggers, but the winter floods had completely re-opened the dig.


Started in September, 1967 by John Cornwell and other B.E.C. and Wessex members as a joint club dig.  Several passages around the depression have now been dug and a passage of over 40ft. in length opened up.  Work has been temporarily halted until the results of a resistivity check is known.


Explored in June, 1967 by joint BEC/Wessex party.


a)                  Terminal Sump: The underwater dig has continued throughout the year since the Sump digging weekend in February, 1967 (See B.B. N.228).  It is being dug mainly by BEC members of the CDG (Phil Kingston and Barry Lane).  The latest details at the time of writing (1.12.67) is that the length of the dig is about 21ft.  At about the 12ft. mark the passage turns at right angle to the left and is now running roughly parallel with the Gour-Lake fault.  A constriction has been met at the end of the dig but according to Phil it is now passable with a small hand held air set.  Cuthbert’s 2 in 1968?

b)                  Dinning Room Dig:  The dig, located above Cerberus Hall and the Dining Room, was started by Mo Marriott and others in 1963 and has been continued by Dave Irwin and Phil Kingston at infrequent intervals.  The current surveying programme and the sump dig has left it temporarily abandoned although plans are going ahead to get it dug regularly.  The length of the dig is about 50ft. and is extremely interesting; it has crossed the Gour-Lake fault and the general direction is parallel with the Sump Passage.  According to Derek Ford this should prove to be an interesting site as it is above the choked levels of the lower section of the cave – time will tell!


Sanctimonious passage was dug in Feb/Mar by Alan Thomas, Collin Priddle, Keith Franklin and Phil Coles.

Keith found a small hole at the end of the passage through which a stone could be dropped. Enthusiasm mounted and the passage was ‘banged’ for several weekends until the hole was large enough to see into. A rift could be seen leading on for over 20ft but it was unfortunately 4ins. wide.  The end of S.P. is not the only place in Hunter’s to interest the potential digger however.  The choked passages above Rover pot warrant some attention and a strong draught blows form Dear’s Ideal.  It is hoped to make Hunter’s the B.E.C. winter dig.

From Other Clubs

By Gordon Tilly

The Axbridge Caving Group and Archaeological Soc. Monthly Newsletter for October, 1967

For people interested in archaeology this newsletter contains an article on the production of a television educational programme entitled’ Ground Level’.  The programme is being divided into five parts, each dealing with a different aspect of archaeology, and will be shown on BBC 2 in January 1968.

MNRC Newsletter No. 47 (Autumn 1967).  This edition is devoted to the official opening of the Mendip Nature Research Station on September 23rd, 1967 and details of the MNRC Management Committee for 1967

W.S.G. Bulletin Vol. 5 No. 5 Sept/Oct, 1967.  This issue of the Bulletin contains two reports.  The first is a report on the WSG 1967 Irish trip.  The second is an article on the WSG method of ladder construction by C. Green stating detailed specifications and is accompanied by several illustrations.  (ed. Note: - all the above publications can be seen in the BEC Library at Dolphin Cottage).


Wrappers Not For Crappers

To our surprise some members thought that the additional roll of paper with the Christmas B.B. was a retiring present from the last Editor.  In fact the idea is that if you want to continue to receive the B.B. you should write your name on each of them and return them to:

P. Townsend,
154, Sylvia Avenue,
Lower Knowle,
Bristol. 3.

Cuthbert’s Leaders’ Meeting

The Annual Cuthbert’s Leaders meeting was held at the Hunters on 19th November 1967.  The meeting opened at 2.30pm with 13 leaders present.

The first item on the agenda was the subject of extending the Leader System to other clubs.  A letter received by Adny MacGregor from John Stafford, regarding the interpretation of the relevant clauses in the Club Insurance Policy and the Cunane Agreement (1954) was discussed. Based on the letter it was felt that a system could be devised allowing members of other clubs than the B.E.C. to be Cuthbert’s leaders.  The meeting discussed at length the details of the scheme that has now been placed before the Club committee for its approval.  Details of the scheme will be published in either the February or March issue.

Bearing in mind the previous item the Leaders felt that the present prospective Leaders form was adequate except for one trip which was split down into two parts.  This makes the total of test trips five instead of the previous four.

Dave Irwin reported that the Maypole Series had been closed for just over 10 months and that biological work would be commencing shortly.  The position of re-opening the series would be discussed at the 1968 meeting.

Discussion then followed on the closure of the cave during the foot-and-mouth epidemic.  It was greed to carry out any requests that Mr. Walt Foxwell felt necessary to make.

Two practice rescues were arranged for the near future: - 1. Wire Rift – Jan. 21st, 1968; 2. Coral Chamber – 21st. April.  All local leaders are asked to keep this date clear.  Pete Franklin volunteered to be the ‘victim’.

P. Kingston and D. Irwin gave brief details regarding the Sump Dig and the new Survey respectively.

It was stated by ‘Prew’ that the telephone line in the New Route was not suitable for a permanent line.  This was agreed and it was stated that this line was left in the cave to act as a measure for the ‘permanent line’.

Phil Kingston said that he would install a chain on the Stal Pitch climb.  To assist the MRO a list of leaders would be sent to Howard Kenny to ensure early call of the local leaders.


Gilbert Weeks

The funeral of Gilbert Weeks, a fine friend of the B.E.C. Took place on the 29th December, 1967, at Priddy Church.  The funeral was attended by cavers, villagers and relatives alike


The Discovery of Contour Cavern – Priddy

The latest discovery on Mendip is the subject of the next article and it will certainly be of interest to members when they read of the techniques used that gave clue to the possible existence of a cave system.  The Editor would like to apologise for the long delay in publishing this fine account.

By Clive North

The entrance to Contour Cavern is situated in a large swallet depression, about 200yds. west of Nine Barrows Swallet, Eastwater, Priddy.

I first came across the site on a Sunday afternoon late in June while I was with a small group of caving friends.  We had an enjoyable trip down Hunters Hole and were whiling away the restless hours until Hunters opened by searching for Nine Barrows Swallet which had been opened a few weeks before.

Missing Nine Barrows completely we went to the largest depression we could see only to find it ‘caveless’.  A short inspection of the ‘steep’ end of the depression revealed a small limestone slab sticking out of the grass.  On this, plainly exhibited for all to see, were some excellent scallops (not the bivalve variety but those produced by water action).  Greatly excited we scrabbled in the earth with bits of stick hoping to break into a giant cave system.  After half an hour no new cave had been found so we marched dejectedly away to drown our sorrows at the Hunters, vowing to return with more sophisticated methods of earth removal later in the summer.

A couple of weeks later I was on Mendip and I met Mr. John Cornwell emerging from Nine Barrows swallet, mud spattered and trouserless.  When I told him of our intended dig he said that he did not want to disillusion us but he expected our cave at best, to be no more than a feeder for Nine Barrows since some of the water enters the latter from that direction.

Undeterred, I took some aerial photographs a week later of the Eastwater area.  These revealed a large area of marshy ground that seemed to ‘funnel in’ on the depression proving some sub-surface movement of water at the site.  (During a recent wet spell I visited the cave and found a fair sized stream entering the depression and building up into a pond in front of the entrance.  This was later found to be pouring down just inside the cave).

However, the second week in August saw four cavers from the Bridgwater Technical College Exploration Club setting up a large tent (some likened it to a marquee) in the depression.  Here we stayed for a week.  The team consisted of myself of Totterdown, Weston-S-Mare; Bernard Evered of Old Orchards, Coathurst near Bridgwater; Colin Rogers of Kinsway Road, Burnham-n-Sea; and Chris Richards of Byron Road, locking near W-S-M.  As soon as the camp had been organised and the heifers had been shooed away, digging began in earnest.

It happened, luckily for us, that the week we had chosen to dig was also the one in which John Cornwell was on holiday and he duly arrived at the dig on the Monday afternoon with Mike ’Fish’ Jeanmaire.  John’s kind offer of some ‘chemical persuasion’ was gratefully accepted and later in the afternoon the hazy serenity that is sometimes Mendip was shattered by several ounces of best ‘bang’.  This loosened the ground considerably and the system of hang-dig, bang-dig worked very well especially when there were large boulders to move.

On Tuesday, while probing with a crow-bar we felt airspace below and we dug frantically until a razor-rock lined rift was opened.  This extended for about 15ft, in a north-south direction, but was only a few inches wide.  It did seem however, slightly wider at the southern end so we backfilled the rift and sank a new shaft.

After digging down a few feet on Wednesday a slight draught was found to be blowing out between some large boulders.  All day Thursday sounds not unlike a busy quarry rent the Priddy air with numerous bangs, whistles from flying rock, hammering and colourful language from the ‘moles down the ‘ole’.  By Thursday night a small, cave passage, emitting a strong cold draught, had been opened at the bottom of the shaft and it was at this point where, before a small crowd amid much cheering and merriment, I lowered myself head first down the shaft, armed with a Nife cell and thrust my head into the opening.  Before my eyes spread a scene of outstanding beauty, for the floor of the passage was composed of wet, dung-coloured mud and rocks rising in graceful piles to the roof, from which hung myriads of glistening brown boulders held together by a soft, brown, mud like substance.

At my frantic call, eager hands pulled my feet and hauled me red-faced and gasping to the surface. After I reported that the passage was about 15ft. long and 1ft. high and would need clearing we set to work again. Later that night it was possible to get into the passage and throw stones, some of which would rattle through the cleft and down for some distance.  This was most exciting and we worked hard to make the roof safe and remove the extremely sticky mud that blocked the passage.  Some large boulders were also removed from the mud.

It was Friday afternoon by the time we had excavated as far as the cleft which was about 4” high.  I found that if you pressed your face into the mud and somehow directed a light through the cleft you could see what appeared to be the roof and far wall of  a chamber about 15ft. across.  It is an interesting phenomena when one looks through a hole of this sort for one seems to loose the 3D effect of the yes.  Our ‘15ft.’ chamber when we broke into it turned out to be only 2ft. across!

Excitement was high that night for we were expecting to break through and we toiled until 2 o’clock on Saturday morning but without any success for the squeeze resisted all attempt to pass it, mainly because of the obstinate projections of rock which we had to blast later that day.

Our last charge was set and fired in the afternoon smashing the projecting rocks completely.  By evening the squeeze was cleared and, life-lined by John, I slipped through the squeeze into a small chamber containing a foxes jaw – the Foxes Den.  In the floor was a small pot which had been filed with the debris we had pushed down. To the left was a squeeze though a rift line with loose rocks and blackness.

John then joined me and went through the squeeze onto the top of a pot.  He directed a feeble carbide flame down the pitch and then threw stones down and announced in no uncertain manner that “It’s as big as bloody Lamb Leer!”

After some clearing work in the squeeze (one can walk through it now) Tim Reynolds and I jammed a cross-bar across the top of the rift, fixed a ladder to it (20ft.) and I descended.  This pitch is a lovely little free-swing ending on a boulder pile.  To one side is a curious rock spire (not stal.) about 18”” high – the Needle.  This was later broken in two by some unknown cavers who got in before the entrance was properly gated.

Contour Cavern is much too complicated for a full description here but a very simplified description is as follows.

From the pitch lies the Big Rift, estimated as 600ft, long and as much as 70ft. high in a few places. Three-quarters of the way down the rift is North Grotto which contains some small but very beautiful stalactite curtains and cascades.  At the end of the rift is a very muddy sump which is being dug.  Leading off from the rift a short way down is a roomy passage which leads to the Upper Series.  This is a network of dry tunnels and tributary rifts. The dry tunnels have hard mud floors which makes crawling, squeezing and digging a pleasure.

There are a few rift-type ox-bow routes from the Upper Series to the top of the Big Rift. Behind the 20ft. pitch a squeeze leads to a boulder chamber (small) and then to a large chamber which has 14 passages leading off.  Most of these are short and end in possible digs while 3 lead into a high extension of the Big Rift.

There are many promising sites for digs in the cave, the most promising being the sump itself. The present sump dig has had to be abandoned for a while owing to a very large concentration of Carbon Dioxide gas which was released during digging.

The job of surveying the cave has been kindly undertaken by Dennis Warburton who estimated the present length of the cave as 2,900ft.

Odd facts – The name Contour Cave was chosen because the entrance is almost on the 500ft. contour (Altitude 880ft. approx.) therefore it is about the highest cave on Mendip.  The N.G.R. of the cave is O.S. 533517.

Access – At present the cave is not open to the general caving public and the entrance is gated. Keys to the cave are held by John Cornwell and myself.  The cave will not be open until research work of several varieties has been completed. When this is so, a system of restricted access will probably come into force, the technicalities of which have not yet been arranged.  The main purpose of this is to keep out the type of caver that smashes formations on sight, scrawls on walls, tips carbide, food and all sorts of rubbish throughout the cave he visits and is more often than not a member of no caving club at all, and to absolve the discoverers and owners of the cave of any responsibility in the case of accidents.  However, responsible members of caving clubs and their guests should not have any difficulty in gaining access to the cave.  When the cave is opened, full details of any arrangements will be sent to all the main clubs and to journals like the Speleologist and Mendip Caver.

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  The entrance is reported to be unstable).

Caving and Climbing Meets

Please note that all arranged meets will only take place in the Foot and Mouth Restrictions have been lifted.


R.A. MacGregor,
The Railway Arms
Station Road


E.G. Welch,
Frencahy Lodge Bungalow,
Malmains Drive,

Caving Meets: -

*February 11th, Sunday.  Banwell Bone and Stalactie Caves
#March 10th, Sunday.  Burrington Caves
EASTER.  South Wales: - Bridge Cave and O.F.D. I and II.  For this meet contact Andy if you are going.
     Camping at Penwyllt.

*Meet 11am outside the farm.
#Meet outside Burrington Café

Climbing Meets:-

February 17/18th.  North Wales.  Contact Eddy if accommodation is required for this meet.
March 24th. Sunday.  Frome Valley
April 28th. Sunday.  Wye Valley


Monthly Notes No. 9

by “WIG”

News In Brief: -

The recent Jumble Sale at Redcliffe Rooms raised £17 for the Hut Fund.  Many thanks to all who helped and arranged the event.

The MCG added 42 metres to the end of LOCATEC SYSTEM in Yugoslavia.

Hillier’s Cave (Mendip) is now blocked about 20ft. from the entrance.

1964-66 Mendip Bibliography has been compiled by Ray Mansfield and published in the November 1967 Caver (In B.E.C. Library).

Christmas at The Belfry

Some 15 members spent Christmas at the Belfry and without exception all will long remember the occasion. This year instead of going to Wells arrangements wee made by Joyce Rowlands and Pete Franklin to have Christmas Dinner at the Belfry.  For £1 a head a better meal could not have been wished for.  The menu consisted of Fruits Juice, Roast Turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas Pud, Coffee and Brandy – not forgetting the bottle of wine a piece!

During ‘closing times’ the Belfry became its old self with bottle walking and various feats of strength being displayed.  One of the many incidents of the weekend was when the B.E.C. found that George Pointing did not enjoy the sight of cream – he disappeared for quire a few minutes! Later however, he had obviously forgiven the club as both he and Dave Berry sang, “We are the BEC” at the Wessex H.Q.!  The following day Dave Berry was seen leading the community singing at the Hunters, aided of course by Mike Baker.  Slide shows were in favour including a mammoth one of 500 slides.  A very fine weekend indeed and our thanks to again Joyce and Pete for the exceptional meal.


It is reported that the U.B.S.S. attempts to re-enter their new discovery is proving harder than expected. Members will remember that they broke into a fair size passage with a promising way on down under Velvet Bottom Valley when after two days the entrance collapsed. No survey had been made of the discovery so the diggers were at loss to the exact location of the chamber-cum-passage. They resorted to an intensive banging operation hoping that at the depth of 50ft. to intercept the passage.  Up till now they seem to have been without luck except for the opening of a few side rifts that are so tight that they cannot be followed.  The next move is believed to be to blast a way in lower down the valley and get in just beyond the collapsed entrance.  The old dig entrance is thought to be too dangerous to re-open.

Cavers Bookshelf No.12

by B.M. Ellis

CAVES IN WALES AND THE MARCHES by D.W. Jenkins and A.M. Williams.  Dalesman. 2nd Edition, 1967.  Price 10/6.*

Quite apart from the contents, this edition is a considerable improvement on the first, although the price has been increased by 3/-, the format is now the same as that used for ‘Pennine Underground’, making it much more convenient for use as a field book.  At the same time a much thinner and batter quality paper is used and the binding should not fall part after being used a couple of times like before.

Looking at the contents, fourteen caves have been added to the South Wales section and the entry for Dan-yr-Ogof has been re-written to include recent developments.  There is also an additional paragraph describing Ogof Ffynnon Ddu II but as is bound to happen this is already out of date.  The entry for Cwm Dwr Quarry Cave has not been altered although in the OFD entry the connection between these two caves is mentioned.  For Agen Allwedd only the access regulations have been altered. The lists for the Forest of Dean caves is almost doubled by fourteen additions.  There is only one addition for the north and mid-Wales section, Ogof Dydd Byraf, the remainder is an exact re-print, errors and all, of the earlier edition.

In reviewing a new edition of a book the emphasis is almost always a comparison.  Generally, this edition is a considerable improvement on the first but could have been better if the authors did not insist of covering such a large area – they cannot be expected to know the whole area intimately and the North Wales section is still very disappointing.  Major caves (for that area) such as Plas Heaton are still omitted and recent developments by clubs such as the Shropshire Mining Club ignored.  (This is partly the fault of these clubs for being so tardy in publishing their results). I do not consider myself to be sufficiently knowledgeable to be critical of the other sections but I expect that they are better.

THE SMCC HUT LOG BOOKS.  Part 1: 1955-1958.  Shepton Mallet Caving Club, Occasional Paper No.4.  Price 3/-.

Following the example set by the Wessex Cave Club a few years ago, The Shepton have now started publishing extract from their caving logs.  The choice is principally scientific and historically interesting entries but a few of general interest are included and a couple of humorous entries also appear.  The period covered by this first is April 1955 to May 1958 and new and old cavers alike will find it interesting.  You can read about sumping without wets suit, of work in places like Hansdown Swallet, of getting into Swildons IV, and so on.  Being quotations from the log book it is written such less formally than meet accounts.

*Not available from Bryan Ellis.


As it’s the 21st birthday of the B.B. the Editor might be forgiven for publishing the Caving Log account of the passing of Stoke Lane sump by Don Coase in June, 1947.

Sun. 22 June ’47. Stoke Lane.  This was an historic trip for the club.  The party consisted of Stanbury, Coase, Balcombe, F. Huchinson and Woodbridge. The primary object was to a) investigate the sump and b) investigate the possibility of getting diving kit into it.

As Coase was the only ‘Stoke Laner’ he was highly delighted at the profanity and acclamations of Disgust emitting from the others.

Squeeze followed squeeze and filth was piled on filth and a feeling of “???S.L.” was very apparent before ever the terminal pool was reached.

Upon reaching the sump Balcombe was heard to remark “and you’ve got the cheek to call this a sump”. However Coase crawled, with much noise into the horrid pool and with much cursing disappeared under the projecting pendants of rock into the pool.  Balcombe followed until he could see Coase and then stopped.  Coase festered around and then shouted, “I can feel airspace the other side”.  Great excitement ensued, Balcombe crawled in the water and joined Coase.  Stanbury took his place at the entrance to the water.

After lots of nattering, there was a gentle gurgle and a splash and Coase had gone through leaving 4 very shaken bods behind.  In a matter of seconds he had returned to say that he had regained the main stream that sinks away before the start of Browne’s Passage.  Balcombe and Stanbury followed him through the trap and followed the river for 400ft. until it passed into a boulder choke.  The party then returned to the two left at the sump and made haste to daylight with the good news.

(Harry Stanbury) Ed.)


LAST BUT NOT LEAST. Elderly gent who happened to drive into the Belfry Car Park recently:  “It’s nice to see you flourishing still; I went caving with the B.E.C. when you first got into Stoke Lane - the leader was Don Coase and there was another chap who had a very good vocabulary of the swear language.”

Roger:  “Sett?”

Elderly gent:  “That’s right”.

(For the benefit of older members it was Mr. Sam Treasure).